COVID-19

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Neelan J. Marianayagam, Ishani D. Premaratne, Michelle M. Buontempo, Francis N. Villamater, Mark M. Souweidane, and Caitlin E. Hoffman

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to carry out a quantitative analysis of a virtual craniofacial clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS

The charts of 90 patients from a single institution were reviewed. Of these patients, 45 visited the virtual clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The other 45 patients visited the clinic in the 3 months prior to COVID-19. Demographics including the mean age at the visit, chief complaint, visit diagnosis, appointment duration, helmet usage, accuracy of the diagnosis, need for a CT scan, and the need for a follow-up appointment were assessed. Diagnostic accuracy, the frequency of follow-up appointments, and patient satisfaction (via survey), as well as additional associated factors, were analyzed to determine the efficacy and satisfaction associated with the virtual clinic approach.

RESULTS

The mean patient age at time of the visit was 5.6 and 7.3 months (p = 0.244), and the mean time from referral to appointment was 19.2 and 19 days (p = 0.934), in the in-person and virtual cohorts, respectively. There was no significant difference in the variety of chief complaints between the in-person and virtual visits, with 97.8% and 93.3% of patients’ parents reporting abnormal head shape, respectively, and the remainder reporting more infrequent complaints (p = 0.435). The visit diagnosis was plagiocephaly in 93.3% of the in-person cohort and 80.0% of the virtual cohort (p = 0.118). The final diagnosis exhibited a similar pattern, with 95.6% of the in-person cohort and 88.9% of the virtual cohort observed as positional plagiocephaly; the remaining diagnoses were more infrequent (p = 0.434). The most common alternative diagnosis in the virtual visit cohort was a metopic ridge (8.4%). In the in-person visit cohort, the most common alternative diagnosis was equally a benign enlargement of the subarachnoid space in infancy, scalp mass, and skull lesion (2.2% each). None of the patients in either cohort were diagnosed with synostosis. Eighty percent of the in-person visits were 15 to 30 minutes in duration, with the remaining 20% being 31 minutes or longer; virtual visits were all 30 minutes or less, with 95.6% being 15 to 30 minutes (p = 0.002). Helmets were prescribed for 2 patients in the in-person cohort and no patients in the virtual cohort (p = 0.494). Alterations in diagnosis were made in 2.2% of in-person visits and 6.7% of virtual visits (p = 0.616). Follow-up was required in 15.6% of the in-person visits and 31.1% of the virtual visits (p = 0.134). CT was only utilized twice, once in the in-person visit cohort and once in the virtual visit cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

Virtual clinic encounters resulted in comparable diagnostic accuracy. The trend toward frequent follow-up assessments and changes in the final diagnosis in the virtual clinic cohort has indicated a level of diagnostic uncertainty via the virtual interface, which required in-person assessment for confirmation. This finding did not contribute toward diagnostic inaccuracy with respect to missed synostosis. The study results have indicated that telemedicine can be an effective modality in assessing craniofacial pathology.

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Jasmine A. Thum DiCesare, David J. Segar, Brian V. Nahed, and Maya Babu

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Takuma Hara, Marcus A. Zachariah, Ruichun Li, Rafael Martinez-Perez, Ricardo L. Carrau, and Daniel M. Prevedello

OBJECTIVE

Aerosol-generating procedures, including endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES), are a major risk for physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Techniques for reducing aerosolization and risk of transmission of COVID-19 during these procedures would be valuable to the neurosurgical community. The authors aimed to simulate the generation of small-particle aerosols during EES and craniectomy in order to develop methods to reduce the spread of aerosolized particles, and to test the effectiveness of these methods.

METHODS

This study was performed at the Anatomical Laboratory for Visuospatial Innovations in Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery at The Ohio State University. The following two scenarios were used to measure three different particle sizes (0.3, 2.5, and 10 µm) generated: 1) drilling frontotemporal bone, simulating a craniectomy; and 2) drilling sphenoid bone, simulating an endonasal approach. A suction mask device was created with the aim of reducing particle release. The presence of particles was measured without suction, with a single Frazier tip suction in the field, and with the suction mask device in addition to the Frazier suction tip. Particles were measured 12 cm from the craniectomy or endonasal drilling region.

RESULTS

In the absence of any aerosol-reducing devices, the number of particles measured during craniectomy was significantly higher than that generated by endonasal drilling. This was true regardless of the particle size measured (0.3 µm, p < 0.001; 2.5 µm, p < 0.001; and 10 µm, p < 0.001). The suction mask device reduced the release of particles of all sizes measured in the craniectomy simulation (0.3 µm, p < 0.001; 2.5 µm, p < 0.001; and 10 µm, p < 0.001) and particles of 0.3 µm and 2.5 µm in the single Frazier suction simulation (0.3 µm, p = 0.031; and 2.5 µm, p = 0.026). The suction mask device further reduced the release of particles of all sizes during EES simulation (0.3 µm, p < 0.001; and 2.5 µm, p < 0.001) and particles of 0.3 µm and 2.5 µm in the single Frazier suction simulation (0.3 µm, p = 0.033; and 2.5 µm, p = 0.048). Large particles (10 µm) were not detected during EES.

CONCLUSIONS

The suction mask device is a simple and effective means of reducing aerosol release during EES, and it could potentially be used during mastoidectomies. This could be a valuable tool to reduce the risk of procedure-associated viral transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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John Paul G. Kolcun, Won Hyung A. Ryu, and Vincent C. Traynelis

OBJECTIVE

The use of telemedicine (TM) has long been available, but recent restrictions to hospitals due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have accelerated the global implementation of TM. However, evidence on the effectiveness of this technology for the care of spine surgery patients is limited. In this systematic review the authors aimed to examine the current utilization of TM for spine surgery.

METHODS

Using PubMed, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library, the authors performed a systematic review of the literature focused on the themes of telemedicine and spine surgery. Included in the search were randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, and case-controlled studies. Two independent reviewers conducted the study appraisal, data abstraction, and quality assessments of the studies.

RESULTS

Out of 1463 references from the initial search results, 12 studies met the inclusion criteria. The majority of TM interventions focused on improving perioperative patient communication and patient education by using mobile phone apps, online surveys, or online materials for consent. The studies reported the feasibility of the use of TM for perioperative care and positive user experiences from the patients.

CONCLUSIONS

The current increase in TM adoption due to the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to further develop and validate this technology. Early evidence in the literature supports the use of TM as an adjunct to traditional in-person clinical encounters for certain perioperative tasks such as supplemental patient education and postoperative surveys.

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Douglas Kondziolka, William T. Couldwell, and James T. Rutka

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J. Adair Prall, John D. Davis, and N. Ross Jenkins

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Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Nicholas C. Bambakidis, Fred G. Barker II, Bob S Carter, Kevin M. Cockroft, Rose Du, Justin F. Fraser, Mark G. Hamilton, Judy Huang, John A. Jane Jr., Randy L. Jensen, Michael G. Kaplitt, Anthony M. Kaufmann, Julie G. Pilitsis, Howard A. Riina, Michael Schulder, Michael A. Vogelbaum, Lynda J. S. Yang, and Gabriel Zada